RAQQA PROVINCE, Syria — Twelve miles north of Raqqa, American Marines and Army engineers are replacing a shattered bridge. They’ve spent three days in the desert, coaxing the prefabricated steel into place.
Cpt. Bobby Murray, based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, told CBS News that the war against ISIS in Syria has left behind a deadly path of destruction.
“There used to be a lot of mines out here from ISIS and the engineers that we brought, along with our EOD [Explosive Ordinance Disposal] technicians, swept out the field and made sure that it was safe,” Murray said.
But just minutes later, a truck hit a mine less than a mile away, and the Marines raced off to investigate.
The driver miraculously was still alive, and medic Colton Segle treated him for lacerations and a concussion.
Khalil Bozan is a fighter with America’s Syrian allies, and said he was heading to the front line when he hit the mine.
The Marines found more mines and then detonated them.
In the nearby village of al Aba’ra they are grateful for American help — but there is very little optimism.
Nobody there would speak to CBS News on camera because they still have family members living under ISIS control and they’re frightful of retribution. But off camera, they said they have no running water, very little food and their children are illiterate because schools have been closed for five years.
America’s attempts to win hearts and mind in the Middle East have often been troubled, and after half a decade of civil war, Syria’s fractures may be beyond repair.
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